At church, I have been one of the readers for the Sundays of Lent. Today, one of my lines to read was: “If we were in [Jesus'] place, knowing death awaited us soon, would we still reflect our light?”
I remember watching on television a video sermon that was delivered
by Dr. Desmond Ford. Ford referred to thinkers who said that there were
other famous historical figures who handled their impending deaths much
more bravely than Jesus did. Was not Jesus afraid of death at the
Garden of Gethsemane? And did not Jesus on the cross ask God why God
had forsaken him?
Dr. Ford’s response was that Jesus was not just experiencing death;
rather, he was experiencing the second death, the death for the wicked
in Revelation 20:14. Other Christians would add that Jesus on the cross
was bearing the weight of people’s sins, and that he was experiencing
alienation from God.
That might be. It is interesting to me that Jesus was still
suffering emotional anguish, when there are some Christians who might
say that such anguish indicates a lack of faith, that we should be
composed because of our trust in God. I am reading a book by George
MacDonald, The Highlander’s Last Song, and one of that book’s
protagonists is one who is not afraid of death, for he realizes that he
is in the arms of God. The book seems to herald him as some sort of
spiritual exemplar. But Jesus experienced emotional anguish. We may
like to regard Jesus as perfect, but perhaps his perfection does not
accord with our understanding of perfection.
Jesus still did let his light shine in his final hours, though.
Jesus thought of others and honored God when he was arrested and when he
was dying, according to the Gospels. He healed the ear of the high
priest’s slave. With composure, he told Pilate that Pilate would have
no power were it not for God. On the cross, Jesus received a criminal
into his kingdom. He arranged for the disciple he loved to take care of
his mother. He was vulnerable, yet he knew who he was and what his